The obligation to draft a preliminary plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results still exists and arises at the proposal stage in Horizon 2020.
Article 13 of the Rules for Participation requires a plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results, where provided for in the work programme or work plan. The Horizon 2020 Work programme 2014-2015 explicitly specifies the obligation to include a draft plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results within the project proposal. However the specific call conditions could establish exceptions to this rule. For example a draft plan is not required for proposals at the first stage of two-stage procedures - e.g. the SME instrument.
In Horizon 2020, generally speaking, there is no obligation to carry out freedom to operate searches. However, performing this type of search is usually good practice, as it will enable you to identify infringement risks linked to the exploitation of the project results. Freedom to operate searches are a good way of ensuring that third parties’ rights will not get in the way of exploitation – this information can be crucial at the proposal stage. For instance, finding out that there is only a limited freedom to operate might result in the necessity to contact third parties and ask for a licence – depending on the terms associated with the grant of this licence, you may consider that the project is no longer worthwhile, or will cost substantially more than what was previously envisioned.
However, depending on the funding scheme chosen, specific requirements may apply. For instance, under the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 funding scheme, each beneficiary has the obligation to “ensure its possibility to commercially exploit the results (freedom to operate)”. This obligation is explicitly set forth under article 26.3 (“Rights of third parties”) of the model grant agreement for Phase 2 of the SME Instrument. As you can see, no obligation to carry out a search is explicitly mentioned, but doing so will in our opinion be necessary in many cases for the beneficiary to make sure that it complies with article 26.3.
The Horizon 2020 general model grant agreement does not contain any general rules with regard to the use of open source licensing in Horizon 2020. In general terms, licensing project results is allowed, provided that it does not get in the way of the grant of access rights. This means that the exclusive licensing of project results should be avoided if it prevents access rights from being granted over the same results.
However, specific rules might explicitly forbid the use of open source. For this reason, we would recommend checking the work programme applicable to the relevant call for proposals, in order to see whether this call bears any specific requirements or recommendations which could impact the possibility to use open source. Indeed, while certain types of projects might imply restrictions to the way the results can be used or disseminated (e.g. security-related projects), others can be more focused on dissemination and therefore the appropriateness of open source will of course depend on the type of project. The European Commission has in fact adopted a policy on Open Access to scientific publications, as well as a pilot on Open Access to research data, therefore showing a greater focus on “open” dissemination in Horizon 2020.
If the work programme remains silent on this matter, we would conclude that no particular restriction applies with regard to the adoption of an open source licence over the project results. Furthermore, using open source licensing might provide for better visibility, outreach and re-use of the results and could therefore be beneficial to the overall impact of the project on the scientific community.
Finally, since many open source licences are by nature not restrictive, licensing project results under such terms (i.e. letting the public use, copy, modify, publish, distribute the software) might have for some of the partners the same effect as that of a lack of IPR protection – it could for instance be considered as going against their own commercial interests. For this reason, it would be good practice to discuss the adoption of the open source licence internally amongst the consortium, so that all partners are given an opportunity to raise some concerns in relation to their legitimate interests.
In Horizon 2020, disseminating project results is a general obligation imposed upon project beneficiaries. However, no dissemination can take place until a decision has been made regarding the protection of project results. In other words, dissemination can only occur once the results have been protected, and insofar as it is compatible with this means of protection.
If trade secret protection is the chosen route of protection for one of your project results, dissemination of these results may not take place at all, since it would not be compatible with the protection chosen.
No. In Horizon 2020, Open Access can be defined as the online access to scientific publications, at no charge to the end-user. Open Access therefore only aims at making your work as widely accessible to the public as possible – it does not aim at putting your publications in the public domain, nor to allow the public to reproduce or redistribute a work without its owner’s consent.
In other words, Open Access is only a means of dissemination and does not have any effect upon the copyright in your publications. Provided that your publications are original, they will in any case be protected by copyright.
This does not necessarily mean that you will retain the copyright in your publications: indeed, in Horizon 2020, the rule is that project results (and related intellectual property rights) are owned by the beneficiary generating them. This means that in most cases the organisation or institution you work for will have the ownership of the results, including your publications – this will usually be reflected by a clause in your employment contract. You would in any case retain at least moral rights over your work, such as the right to be identified as its author.
In the EU, websites are works which are usually protected by copyright, provided that they are the result of the creativity of their author(s), that is, that they are original. Copyright protection arises automatically upon the creation of the work, and grants its owner several exclusive rights such as the rights to copy, to distribute, and to communicate the work to the public.
Please note that the individual works which constitute the website’s contents (such as articles, written reports, guides, videos) will also be individually subject to copyright protection, provided that they fulfil the requirement of originality. Databases included in a website can also be subject to copyright protection if they comply with this requirement of originality. Nevertheless, in the EU, a database which does not present an original character may still be protected, under a separate protection regime (a sui generis database right).
As long as your website meets the requirements for copyright protection (in particular a requirement of originality), copyright will arise automatically. Therefore, although it is good practice to include a copyright notice on your webpage, the existence of copyright will not depend on this notice. A copyright notice is, however, useful for the purpose of informing website users of the existence of rights over the content (and thus preventing unintentional infringements from occurring); in certain jurisdictions, it will also be useful in court as a means of proof in case of an infringement dispute.
A copyright notice is usually presented as follows: © [name of copyright holder] [year of creation – current year] [with a possible additional mention such as “All rights reserved”].
Please note that an EU-funded project or a consortium does not have legal personality, and therefore cannot as such be legally considered a copyright holder. Therefore, it is advisable to mention the name of the project partner(s) which hold the copyright in the website, rather than the name of the project. However, if many project partners are involved and are all co-owners, an alternative could consist in mentioning “[name of project] partners” as the right holders, in the copyright notice.